Good morning to everyone but especially to...
Damar Hamlin is home. Really home. Nine days after suffering cardiac arrest on the field against the Bengals and two days after being transferred from University of Cincinnati Medical Center to Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute, the Bills safety returned home after passing a comprehensive medical evaluation.
Hamlin, 24, will continue his rehabilitation from home and with the team's trainers and medical personnel, and the Bills are hopeful he can return to the team facility during their playoff run, which begins Sunday against the Dolphins.
- Here's the NFLPA's inaugural All-Pro team.
- In his first game for PSG since the World Cup, Lionel Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Angers.
- Kyle Kuzma nailed another game-winner.
- The Dodgers acquired Miguel Rojas from the Marlins.
- Nelson Cruz is joining the Padres.
And not such a good morning for...
THE MIAMI DOLPHINS AND THE BALTIMORE RAVENS
Two teams with once-promising seasons. Two quarterbacks likely heading into the offseason with major questions.
The Dolphins officially ruled out Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) for Saturday at the Bills, and Ravens star Lamar Jackson (knee) is a long shot to play against the Bengals.
Things get worse from there for both teams.
- Teddy Bridgewater (knee, finger) is also hurt, meaning seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson will be under center for Miami. For Baltimore, Tyler Huntley (right shoulder, wrist) was limited in practice after not playing in Week 18, so undrafted rookie Anthony Brown may get the call. As a result of the Miami injuries, Buffalo has soared to a 13-point favorite. It's among the largest spreads in recent playoff history.
- Tagovailoa has suffered at least three notable head injuries this season: a hit against the Bills that he returned from in Week 3 (but led to the NFL terminating its partnership with the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant that evaluated him), a concussion that forced him to be stretchered off four days later against the Bengals and a concussion against Green Bay on Christmas.
- Jackson suffered a knee sprain in Week 14 against the Broncos, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh ruled it a "week-to-week" injury and not season-ending. That was nearly six weeks ago, though, and Jackson hasn't even practiced -- much less played -- since.
Tagovailoa and the Dolphins showed great progress this season, their first under head coach Mike McDaniel. But the QB will have played in just 36 of a possible 51 games since being drafted, and the concussion issues are concerning if not downright frightening. The Dolphins have to decide this offseason whether or not to exercise Tagovailoa's fifth-year option.
The Ravens have a much bigger decision to make: Jackson will be a free agent this offseason. It's hard to deny he's a true superstar when healthy, and the 2019 season -- when he became the youngest quarterback to win MVP (and won the award unanimously) -- proved it. It's also hard to deny health is an issue: He's missed 10 games over the past two seasons, and if the Ravens lose Sunday, he'll enter the offseason with one career playoff win.
I'm one of the biggest Jackson fans you'll find. I love his big-play ability, and his improvisation skills are second-to-none. But his fourth full season as a starter has likely come to an end, and all four have ended in disappointment.
Not so honorable mentions
- Christian Pulisic will miss months with a knee injury.
- Northwestern is investigating the football program over hazing allegations.
- Dewayne Dedmon was suspended one game.
Ranking the Super Wild Card Weekend games 🏈
Does that quarterback injury news have you feeling down? Don't worry. There's sure to be plenty of great games during Super Wild Card Weekend, and Tyler Sullivan ranked all six matchups from worst to first.
It's no surprise what comes in first -- not just for the game, but for the storylines.
- Sullivan: "1. Cowboys at Buccaneers -- You have America's Team squaring off against the G.O.A.T. on Monday night. Need I say more? ... Naturally, when you have an all-time great like Brady making another playoff push, it's worth your attention. That's especially true when his opponent is a Cowboys team that he has dominated throughout his career, going 7-0 against them lifetime. ... Want to talk about narratives? Imagine the scenario of the Cowboys going one-and-done again in the playoffs again? That would certainly put Mike McCarthy directly on the hot seat and there's no telling what Jerry Jones would do next."
However, don't sleep on Tyler's No. 2 game: Chargers at Jaguars, which means Justin Herbert vs. Trevor Lawrence.
They're two of the league's shining stars, and both are making their first of what should be many playoff appearances. Both teams are playing well, too: The Chargers won four straight before pulling their starters early in a Week 18 loss, and the Jaguars have won five straight. I can't wait for Saturday night (and Saturday afternoon, and Sunday, and Monday...). We'll be back on this topic tomorrow with expert picks for every game.
Who will be this year's Kansas in college basketball? 🏀
Recruiting rankings matter. They do. Everyone loves a highly regarded freshman who dazzles on the court for a few months and then hears his name called early in the NBA Draft shortly thereafter.
But if you're looking to build a program, you have to find the recruits a level or two below that. Guys who will stick around. That's what Kansas did last year en route to a title, and that's what Matt Painter and No. 3 Purdue just might be doing this year, led by a former little-known but large-bodied recruit, writes our Matt Norlander in his latest Court Report.
- Norlander: "Zach Edey (440th in 2020) -- The frontrunner for national player of the year now, but once upon a time Edey played backup to former five-star center Mark Williams at IMG Academy. Before that, he was on the B team. Painter didn't even see Edey play until October of his senior year. ... Painter knew it would take years, but eventually 'the light would turn on.' Now it's blinding."
This was a really great look at the Boilermakers' top players and a ton of other things going on across college basketball, including...
- Details on Texas' head coaching search
- Preseason favorites struggling
On the court, we had one of the best slates of the year Wednesday. Here were the biggest results:
- No. 25 Marquette upended No. 6 UConn, 82-76.
- No. 4 Alabama won, 84-69, at No. 15 Arkansas. The Crimson Tide are really good.
- No. 10 Texas rallied past No. 17 TCU, 79-75.
- No. 12 Xavier won a 90-87 thriller over Creighton.
NHL Power Rankings: Bruins back in top spot 🏒
We're roughly halfway through the NHL season, and the Bruins still haven't suffered a regulation loss at home, have an active 14-game point streak and have our Austin Nivison running out of superlatives in his latest NHL Power Rankings.
- Nivison: "I'm starting to run out of things to say about the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. They have 68 points through 40 games played. That means they could go 18-24-0 in their final 42 games and still hit 100 points. The only hope for the rest of the Eastern Conference is that the Bruins tucker themselves out before the playoffs arrive."
The Bruins passed the Hurricanes for the top spot. Here's the top five:
- 1. Bruins (prev: 2)
- 2. Hurricanes (prev: 1)
- 3. Wild (prev. 4)
- 4. Maple Leafs (prev: 5)
- 5. Lightning (prev: 3)
The Predators -- up from 24th to 17th -- were this week's biggest risers, while the Penguins -- down from 11th to 16th -- and Coyotes -- down from 27th to 32nd -- shared the dishonor of biggest fallers.
What we're watching Thursday 📺
⚽ NWSL Draft, 6 p.m. on Paramount+ and CBS Sports HQ
🏀 Celtics at Nets, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Mavericks at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT